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The corporate ladder isn’t always linear: 7 career tips from Dale Pease, VP of Division Operations

Updated: Apr 23

Dale joined Stryker in 2016 as the Sr. Director of Operations. Since then, Dale’s held five

different roles at Stryker working his way up to Vice President of Division Operations for Stryker’s Global Quality and Operations team. But Dale’s no stranger to internal mobility and championing his career path. Prior to coming to Stryker, Dale worked his way up from a buyer desk to Vice President by leveraging skills he learned in six different roles over a 12-year period.

Not only has Dale grown his career significantly, but he’s also helped form one of Stryker’s nine employee resource groups (ERGs), Allies for All Abilities (3A). Dale’s success hasn’t been limited to his professional life, he is also heavily involved with his kids and community. Outside of work, Dale has served as the Vice President of his children’s school board, his kids’ athletic coach, and a mentor. How does he do it all, and what’s his secret to success? We had the opportunity to sit down with Dale to learn more about his career path, lessons he’s learned along the way, and tips for fellow professionals.

1. Ask yourself, “Are you looking for a career or just a job?”

Dale shared that early in his career someone asked him if he was looking for a job or looking for a career. That question made it loud and clear that if he wanted a career, he needed to be intentional. When talking about being strategic in your career plans, Dale noted, “You really own your own career and get to evaluate where you want to go and how you’re going to get there.” When you’re building your career, you need to map out a strategy.

2. Find a mentor

Mentorship is one ingredient in the secret recipe for career progression. Having a mentor can be a valuable asset to your professional growth. Mentors offer a different way of learning, by not only teaching you what to do, but also sharing things you may want to avoid. At Stryker, employees have access to several mentorship opportunities around the world, where colleagues are eager to share their expertise and elevate talent. Dale noted, “Working at Stryker is like working with the best of the best, except everyone is the best of the best in what they do, making it a very motivating atmosphere.” Take advantage of your colleagues’ experience and ask them to help with your professional development.

3. Build your network and stay connected

In addition to finding a mentor, Dale stressed the importance of building your network AND maintaining it. Advising, “Once you’ve had the opportunity to meet people, stay connected! Ask people if you can add time to their calendar to meet every six months or so.” Leaders want to create a strong pipeline for future roles, by continuing to build these connections, you’re letting your interests be known, and keeping yourself at the forefront of their minds as opportunities arise.

4. Don’t be afraid to make a “backward” move

Just before coming to Stryker, Dale was at professional crossroads. His current company was making strategic changes that would require Dale and his family to relocate out of state. They’d planned to do so, until a chance encounter with the parent of one of his kids’ classmates changed everything.

The parent happened to be a recruiter at Stryker, who talked to Dale about an open role. While it would be a step back in title, it also meant staying in the area his family knew and loved.

When faced with the decision to make a career move that wasn’t an “advancement”, but taking a step down in terms of title, Dale said “I immediately felt a connection to the role and the mission. Having the title of VP didn’t matter to me. Working with talented people who are the best of the best motivated me and I knew after meeting the team, Stryker was the place for me.”

5. Be intentional with your time

Working full-time, advancing your career, traveling the world, furthering your education, being a parent, finding time to volunteer, the demands on our time are endless. So how does Dale make it work?

One of the secrets to Dale’s success is to fully maximize his time by being intentional. What does this mean? If you’re going to be somewhere anyway, be involved, speak up, make a contribution.

In addition to his life at Stryker, Dale is also a parent to two children. When reflecting on being involved with his kids’ lives, he shared “I have to prioritize, I realize I can’t do everything for everyone. However, if I am already going to be there – at a kid’s game for example, I may as well coach and be involved.”

6. Be an ally to all

Following his daughter’s dyslexia diagnosis, Dale saw firsthand how the right support enabled her to thrive. This experience caused him to reflect, “Everyone has strengths, challenges, and gets labeled differently. So, the question is, how do we help everyone? What is the first step?”

It turns out, the first step for 3A was a conversation with one of Dale’s Stryker colleagues. They knew people needed to become more comfortable talking about disabilities, and that creating a platform to promote and advance disability inclusion practices within Stryker would spark greater innovation, engagement, and productivity. “We were very keen on starting something that connected people with disabilities, the people who care for them, and provide support. It was important to us to start the conversation and bring it out of the shadows.”

Thanks to this initial conversation, the ball started rolling, and today, 3A can be found at Stryker locations across Europe, India, the United States, and Costa Rica.

7. Believe in the “why”

What initially attracted Dale to Stryker was the mission: Together with our customers, we’re driven to make healthcare better.

Although Dale has had an impressive career traveling the world, helping guide strategic business objectives, and improving workplace culture through the foundation of 3A, the thing that keeps him going is his belief in Stryker’s mission. “I loved seeing a company where the missions and values are so strongly intertwined in what we do on a daily basis.” When talking about his career high points he noted “I don’t think it’s happened yet. I want to continue to help the company succeed and grow, but I’ve loved having the opportunity to see our products in use and the impact they make on the lives of patients and surgeons. Seeing the difference our work makes is extremely motivating.”

If you’re looking for more than just a job – but a career with a company that you can grow with, explore our careers site. It’s the first step in writing your own #StrykerStory.


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